Oliver Letwin is undoubtedly a massive influence on David Cameron. He was the first senior Tory to back Mr Cameron’s leadership bid and his cautious approach to tax, his enthusiasm for Kyoto environmentalism and his emphasis on redistribution have all become hallmarks of the Project for which he is policy director.
In that role Oliver Letwin will make a speech to Policy Exchange later today in which he’ll set out the core beliefs of what The Telegraph calls "post-Thatcher Conservatism."
Fortunately we don’t have to wait until Mr Letwin gets up to speak. He has already written for this morning’s Times and sets out the two "paradigm-shifts" of "Cameron Conservatism":
"First, a shift from an econocentric paradigm to a sociocentric paradigm."
That, in plain English, probably means that debates about the nature of society are now more central to politics than debates about economic policy.
"Cameron Conservatism is also an attempt to shift the theory of the State from a provision-based paradigm to a framework-based paradigm."
Attempted translation: Labour’s state is top-down and controlling of the public services but the Cameron state will give schools, hospitals and police officers the freedoms and incentives to meet clear objectives.
I think there’s a lot of truth in what Oliver says but his article is really hard work. It reminds me of a Rowan Williams sermon. I get the impression that big words and clunky phrases have been employed to give pretty simple and uncontroversial ideas the appearance of being more interesting than they are.
ConservativeHome applauds the principles of Project Cameron. It is right to emphasise the quality of life alongside the standard of living but it would be dangerous to think that economic arguments are largely over. Huge battles lie ahead in ensuring that the taxes and regulations of the Brown years do not kill Britain’s international competitiveness. Many people in Britain are still struggling to make ends meet and there’ll be much more worklessness if UKplc fails to meet the challenge of the emerging economies. The second of Letwin’s paradigm shifts is also welcome although CCHQ’s own attempts to micromanage candidate selection and the London Mayoral process are warnings that Team Cameron may be more meddlesome and less trusting than some of us would like.
1pm update: Download a PDF of Oliver Letwin’s full remarks